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Drug Addiction Treatment – Acupressure


ARTICLE OVERVIEW: Addiction is a complex, chronic brain disease that can be treated using acupressure. How does this alternative medicine help people who struggle with substance use disorders? We review here.


TABLE OF CONTENTS:


Addiction And Brain Changes

Before we jump in, it will be helpful to define just what addiction is. We like to use the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) definition for addiction. NIDA defines addiction as:

A chronic, relapsing disease characterized by compulsive drug use despite negative consequences and changes in the brain.

Usually, psychoactive and addiction substances affect the brain area responsible for rewards causing dopamine release. Since dopamine release causes pleasure and euphoria, most of use want to feel good over and over again. But with repetiton, a habit develops. And as we use a substance over and over again, we reinforce certain pathways in the brain, leaving other pathways to atrophy.

Additionally, the brain adjusts to chemicals over time. After a period of substance use, the brain gets used to the presence of the drug as normal. So, when you try to quit drinking or using your drug-of-choice after you are drug-dependent, your body will experience withdrawal symptoms. In fact, drug dependence is the brain and body’s attempt to keep ‘balanced’. In this way, substance use hijacks your brain and changes its function.

Who is Affected

Addiction is America’s #1 health and social issue. In fact, addiction is a worlwide issue! It is estimated that 8-13% of people who live in developed countries experience some sort of addiction (food, gaming, alcohol, drugs, gambling, etc) Not suprisingly, in 2010 the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that 5.4% of the worldwide population deals with alcohol and/or illicit drug use.

In the U.S. the National Survey on Drug Abuse and Health of 2016 found that 22.5 million people aged 12 or older had substance use problems. Specifically,

  • 15.1 million Americans aged 12 or older could be diagnosed with a drinking problem.
  • 7.4 million Americans aged 12 or older could be diagnosed with a drug problem.

Moreover, this report shows that in 2016 there were 64,000 deaths due to drug overdose.

The stats are alarming!

Is Treatment Possible?

So, can you break free from addiction? YES! Addiction can be treated.

Treatment helps individuals with substance use disorders stop their drug seeking and start living a substance-free life. There are plenty evidence-based treatment approaches that occurred in many settings, taking variety of forms and lasting differently that can help you bit addiction.

You are not alone in your search for help. SAMHSA reported in 2016 that 1 in 13 people aged 12+ need substance use treatment. This means that about 21 million people are in need of addiction treatment.

  • 1.1 million adolescents aged 12 to 17 need addiction help.
  • 5.3 million young adults aged 18 to 25 need addiction help.
  • 14.5 million adults aged 26 or older need addiction help.

So why wait?

If you’re ready to reach out, addiction professionals can help you find the best program for you.

But we’re assuming that you found this post because you’re interested in alternative options. Can acupressure really be effective in treating addiction? Should you try it on your own?

Complementary and Alternative Option

Most people who struggle with addiction receive addiction treatment that include:

  • Medical detox.
  • Pharmacotherapy, or medications.
  • Psychological treatment or talk therapy.
  • A combination of the above.

However, addiction is a complex, chronic disease that may include periods of relapse and recovery. Because of this, the best treatment is the one that is tailored by individual’s needs.

In 1998, the Drug Commission of the German Medical Association published an opinion for evaluating methods of treatment “outside scientific medicine”. Since then, the topic on complementary and alternative medicine has become more important.

In some cases, people with substance use disorders require alternative and complementary strategies to secure and boost their recovery. Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies are available for people who search new ways to treat addiction. According to expert Ernst E. Komplementärmedizin , currently there are about 400 CAM procedures and practices. CAM are divided into two categories:

Natural products, which includes foods and supplemental of a natural origin such as:

  • Herbs.
  • Minerals.
  • Probiotics.
  • Special diets.
  • Vitamins.

Mind and body practices, which includes techniques conducted by a trained practitioner to achieve certain goal:

  • Acupressure.
  • Acupuncture.
  • Art therapies.
  • Hypnotherapy.
  • Chiropractic.
  • Massage therapy.
  • Mediation.
  • Relaxation techniques.
  • Yoga.

If you like to learn more about CAM, visit this website.

What Is Acupressure?

Acupressure is an extended acupuncture method that, instead of needles involves finger pressure. Originating in ancient China, acupressure is a based on the principal of acupoint activation. It uses the fingers to gradually press key points on the body to stimulate its natural self-curative abilities.

How Does Acupressure Work?

Basically, there are two main principles in acupressure.  You reinforce a pressure point to bring energy to it, or you reduce a pressure point to remove energy blocks. You can reinforce and reduce the same acupressure points to both bring energy and remove energy blockage. They don’t cancel each other out.

To reduce an acupressure point, continually press and move your index finger (or another finger if you get tired) in a counterclockwise circles on the point. To reinforce a pressure point, you can apply firm pressure using your fingers, palms, or knuckles to a pressure point for one to several minutes. Or, you can rub the pressure point vigorously to increase circulation to the area.  You can also try to quick tap a pressure point with your fingertips or fist to stimulate the muscles. To get a full effect, apply pressure for at least 30 seconds; preferably 1-2 minutes is best.

There are several ways to perform acupressure, and you’ll need to try different methods to discover what feels best to you. Acupuncture points are about 0.5 mm diameter, so you’ll have to be precise if you want good effect.  If your fingers or hands get tired while trying to apply acupressure, you can use a prop like a the rubber eraser of a pencil, a golf ball or a blunt object that is at least 3-4 mm thick.

Basic Acupuncture Points for Addiction

  • Anxiety: 16, 19, 36, 40, 43
  • Common Cold: 4, 17, 52, 59
  • Fatigue: 24, 31, 36, 59
  • Greater body efficiency: 36, 45, 56
  • Headache – general: 1, 50, 58, 59
  • Headache – forehead: 1, 59
  • Headache – top of head: 42, 49
  • Headache – temples: 2, 58
  • Headache – back of head: 42, 50
  • Insomnia: 16, 19, 40, 43, 55
  • Stress & emotional imbalance: 16, 19, 20, 36, 40, 55
  • Quit smoking: 5, 17, 20, 36, 45
  • Quit drinking alcohol: 4, 16, 19, 36,

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Efficacy

This study published in the journal Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine reports positive response to the specific acupressure treatment on psychological distress, cravings, and drug/alcohol use measures. However, there is still need of evidence to support not only the efficacy of acupressure, but for almost all forms of CAM.

Many individuals in recovery provide personal experience and claims of the benefits they got from different CAM approaches. But, if some therapy works for them, it doesn’t mean that it will work for you. Keep in mind that you need to be cautious with beginning any new treatment, especially if there is no FDA approval for them.

You can always take these steps into account when looking for CAM:

  • Find reliable information (government websites, journal articles, or local library)
  • Ask your current addiction treatment providers.
  • Choose CAM practitioners that are trained, certified, and experienced.
  • Choose CAM therapies that are proven safe and effective in treatment of addiction.

Where to Seek More Info

So, if you want to seek professional help and see an acupuncturist, where do you go? Selecting an acupunturist is like choosing any doctor or other health professional. Look for someone you trust and who understands your personal needs.

Further, you need to be sure that the acupuncturist is licensed. Look to your state’s department of health board for verification. You can see if the acupuncturist is licensed and in good standing by contacting your State Board of  Examiners or Bureau of Professional Licensing. You can also search for recommended member listing through the:

Your Questions

Do you have any question about acupressure or any other complementary and alternative medicine? Feel free to post them in the comments section below. We try to respond them personally and promptly.

Reference souses: NCBI: Efficacy of auricular acupressure as an adjuvant therapy in substance abuse treatment: a pilot study.
NCBI: Contemporary acupressure therapy: Adroit cure for painless recovery of therapeutic ailments
NCBI: Acupuncture therapy for drug addiction https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4822281/
NCBI: Effect of self-administered auricular acupressure on smoking cessation –a pilot study
NIH: Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide 
NIH: Treatment Approaches for Drug Addiction

Leave a Reply

18 Responses to “Drug Addiction Treatment – Acupressure
Tyagi
7:21 am December 26th, 2008

Many a drug addiction treatment center is established in America. They offer many recovery programs and facilities to patients of psychological disorders. Professionals and experienced therapists cure the diseases at centers. I am not sure that treatment should focus on the body… drug treatment is a psychological treatment of a victim.

11:29 am December 28th, 2008

I think that, ideally, treatment centers should SIMULTANEOUSLY treat mind and body. So my idea is not that the body replaces the mind, but should be considered at the same time during any treatment for addiction.

Drug Rehab
7:49 am February 14th, 2009

One thing is for sure if you are trying to break a habit such as drug addiction, a change of environment should be at the top of the list as far as solutions. Due to these factors, attending a drug rehab close to home is seldom the correct treatment option for chronic drug abusers. It is extremely therapeutic to be distanced from the people they used drugs with, drug dealers, and the surroundings that can continue to stimulate their past addictive behaviors.

Don
3:44 pm April 16th, 2009

Accupunture and massage therapy are beginning to show up in alot of hollistic programs thesedays. A great way to find them is by using a facility locator service.

teen treatment center
8:24 am May 27th, 2009

For me, the best way of treatment of a drug addict was rehabilitation. this is base on my opinion.

-mj-

tylerfitzgerald42
7:28 pm June 9th, 2009

Make sure there is a balance between physical and metal health when it comes to kicking drug and alcohol addiction. There are a great deal of physical discomforts that happen when stopping the intake of narcotics. There needs to be some relief and giving them more drugs is not the ideal solution for the problem. We use Chiropractic methods of relieving never pains from the withdrawals. Im curious how these methods effect the process.

salena
10:33 pm June 21st, 2009

My daughter was released from an adolescent in-patient substance abuse facility on her 18 birthday and has been home for 1 month. She was in intensive out patient and relapsed on her 3rd week home. Her drug of choice was roxies. It has been a week since her relapse and she has been ok. She has an appointment with CARP out patient treatment in a couple of weeks. She attends one out patient per week and one on one with a clinician once a week. Any advice.
Salena

4:14 pm June 25th, 2009

Hi Salena. I’m sorry to hear the news about your daughter. I’d suggest that you check out Al-Anon. There, you can learn about how to cope with a loved one who is using. Your daughter must choose recovery. Have you thought about asking her to find another place to live if she is using?

maria
4:46 am June 30th, 2009

i just found out i am pregnant… i have been addicted to vicodin now for almost a year. physically i am not addicted- it is mainly the high. i feel i cannot go through a day without being high on pills. this is devastating to me, as i used to be happy. i don’t really drink, i never used street drugs… i just never thought that this would happen to me. i was having severe muscle spasms and back pain, and then this all started. i am hoping that someone may know of a pressure point i can use on myself while at work when a craving hits. any help? i don’t see my doctor until july 20th and i am going to begin the taper off the meds. any help would be greatly appreciated. thank you!

De-addiction
4:57 am August 12th, 2009

Drug addiction is a pathological condition. The disorder of addiction involves the progression of acute drug use to the development of drug-seeking behavior

Sandy Swiss
6:19 pm July 15th, 2010

I’m a recovering addict and my struggle still continues. My family has been amazing with helping my recovery and comes with me to my meetings.

1:28 pm August 6th, 2010

Hi Maria. I’m so sorry that it’s taken so long for me to respond. I’ve been on an extended maternity leave now for a year. I’d suggest that you see a certified acupuncturist to really help work with cravings. You might try looking for someone in your area by using these trusted directories:

NCCOAM: http://www.nccaom.org/find/index.html
AAMA: http://www.medicalacupuncture.org/
AAAOM: http://www.aaaomonline.org/

marcel
10:03 pm September 28th, 2010

i going to tell you something about addiction. it is a disease, mental one, and my problem is that I am a addict rehab. i don’t know how i became one. i don’t like to drink alchool, but i do it just to be treated. i want to escape from this nightmare. all of you stay strong!!

Reid Carrel
9:41 am October 27th, 2010

I’m onto day two. again. Yesterday was good at first, but then partner and I had a disagreement during the night, I’m so depressed now, I know I don’t want any weed, I really don’t, but wish that I could get out of my head, I can’t shut it up, it hurts.

Hems
9:38 pm June 18th, 2011

Great article! One thing that is changing is that in the past, Acupressure therapists charge $75-$150 per session. Now, you can get acupressure products in the market that let you leverage foot reflexology and accupressure at home. I’m thinking of a mat that has a pyramid to apply the right amount of pressure on the center of your foot. The mat is easy to use – you walk on it in less than 5 minutes per day.

Chinese massage in Victoria
10:06 am February 15th, 2017

Pretty good submit. I became aware of your website in addition to needed to express that I have got genuinely liked looking at your website blog posts. First-class information about the online review searches.

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
5:12 pm February 15th, 2017

Thank you for the lovely words, Chinese. We do our best to inform you 🙂

kash
11:23 am March 23rd, 2018

I’d love some info

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